I spent the last week with my sweetheart, Dave, in Las Vegas. We stayed at the Encore (sister property to the Wynn resort) and generally had a fabulous time. Now Dave enjoys his table games, especially Craps, and was on the casino floor at the Encore almost every night playing. I would sometimes join him to watch the action and give him my support. At one point he was curious as to what sort of points he may have earned on his players club card so we went to talk to the folks with that info.
What really impressed me was the fact that they had detail information about his plays – how long he played on average, his average bet, and all sorts of other information. We also found out his average bet was too low to qualify for any sort of “comps” as well. Now considering the fast-paced action at the craps tables, along with 4 casino employess (2 dealers, a stickman and a box man) who have to keep track of all the action. The boxman did appear to have a computer at his disposal but I did not see him ever using the computer (his hands were always above the table).
I am aware that casinos are famous for using the “eye in the sky” (sophisticated security camera systems) to also keep an eye on the action at each table as well. This all made me curious as to how the casinos can accurately track a player’s action at a game like Craps, so I decided to do a little research when I got home.
Based on what I’ve read so far, a big part of what Casino’s do with all the data they collect is Predictive Analysis – taking guests’ actions (everything from how long they stay at the hotel, how much they gamble, how much they spend on food, drinks, and other entertainment) to predict which guests are likely to come back, which may be future VIP guests, or even potential guests you may wish to discourage from returning to your establishment. There are companies, like Ergenomics, that specialize in just such predictive analysis and work in conjunction with other types of metrics and analytics vendors, like SalesForce.com.
Based on a case study from Diamond Consulting, their analysis of slot machine metrics helped predict player value and gaming behavior. Their analysis also led them to recommend a different configuration for the slot machines which led to improved financial performance from the slot machines overall. Slot machines are probably easier to data mine because they are computerized and the data just gets uploaded into a database. If you use your players card, all the better for the casino and the incentive of potential comps also makes it worthwhile for the guest as well.
Of course how each casino does their data mining and analytics are closely guarded. In none of the case studies I read were any specific casinos mentioned by name. However it is clear they use a combination of methods to track your spending and gambling activities. At the Wynn and Encore your room key is also your players card – with your name printed on it. When we dined or used the spa, we charged it to our room, and we used the room key/players cards when we gambled. So every penny we spent at that hotel and casino was tracked. The table games of course are less easy to track because they are not computerized and fast paced, but if you combine them with the “eye in the sky” and have folks review what’s happening at each table and input that into a data mining system, it just adds to the amount of metrics they have on you.
Ultimately if casinos can do such a good job tracking everything you are doing – most of it “offline” activities – then why are folks having such a hard time data mining things like Social Media – which are entirely online? I’d love to hear folks comments about that!